>As we reported here back in February, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed a district judge’s 2007 ruling that a California law that restricts sales of “violent” video games to minors is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit found the law unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored, because treating violence as obscenity is not permissible by the Constitution and because the state had not demonstrated that violent video games cause psychological or neurological damage. After the law was defeated at the Ninth Circuit, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the filing of a petition for certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to save the law, arguing that the same justifications for precluding sales of pornography to minors should be applied to violent video games. “By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law… Continue Reading
>Massachusetts is on track to became the first state to mandate that game companies (and other companies) storing the personal information of state residents must comply with specific data security practices. Massachusetts enacted a data protection statute on October 31, 2007, authorizing the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (“OCABR”) to develop regulations implementing the statute. OCABR has now issued regulations set to go into effect on January 1, 2010. These regulations require game companies (regardless of where a company is located) to comply with certain administrative and computer security requirements when storing or transferring personal information that has been gathered from gamers or company employees living in Massachusetts.Under the regulations, games companies must create and follow a security program that includes, among other things, assignment of personnel to oversee and update the security program, identification of all records containing personal information, identification of security risks to those… Continue Reading
>It seems like we hear about hacked websites and stolen digital data more and more these days. It’s unquestionably a big headache to repair the damage done by hackers and get a website or server back up and running after an attack. What is often overlooked is the even bigger legal headache of complying with customer “notification” laws after a digital security breach. California’s Civil Code §1798.82 is a good example of a customer “notification” law, and many other states have followed California by enacting similar laws. California Civil Code §1798.82 requires business to disclose any data breach involving California residents. “Any person or business that conducts business in California, and that owns or licenses computerized data that includes personal information, shall disclose any breach of the security of the system following discovery or notification of the breach in the security of the data to any resident of California whose… Continue Reading
>Nadya Suleman made big news last week when she sought to register the “Octomom” moniker with the U.S. Trademark Office. Ms. Suleman’s two trademark applications indicate that she intends to use the mark “Octomom” in connection with a reality TV show and disposable diapers, among other things. However, it turns out that video game company Super Happy Fun Fun, Inc., (I love the name) out of Austin, Texas, had already filed an intent to use application last month for the mark “Octomom” in connection with computer game software, toys, and entertainment services. So who gets the right to use the mark? Generally speaking, the first-filer gains the upper hand by winning the race to the Trademark Office. We talked a little about the advantages of filing for trademark protection as early as possible in a previous post. So, to the extent that the Trademark Office views Ms. Suleman’s reality TV… Continue Reading
>The governer of Utah decided that the Utah HB governing the sale of age-rated games (see my earlier post) was a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Thus, the governor vetoed the bill.
>Another video game law is poised to come into being. Utah’s State House and Senate have approved HB0353 and submitted it to the governer for signature (or veto). If the governor signs it, then the law will go into effect January 1, 2010. Here’s a quick summary of the bill:HB0353 amends Utah’s Truth-In-Advertising statute, which enumerates the different acts that can constitute a deceptive trade practice. HB0353 adds that a deceptive trade practice occurs when, in the course of a person’s business, vocation, or occupation that person (i) advertises that the person will not sell a good or service labeled with an age restriction or recommendation to a person under the age restriction or recommendation; and (ii) sells that good or service to a person under the age restriction or recommendation. In other words, it sounds like the bill is attempting to go after retailers and movie theaters that don’t… Continue Reading
>Proponents of free speech through the arts earned a victory on February 20, 2009, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed a California district judge’s 2007 ruling that a California law that restricts sales of “violent video games” to minors is unconstitutional.Chapter 638 of the Statutes of 2005, otherwise known as “AB 1179,” was passed by the California state legislature in October 2005. AB 1179 imposes restrictions on the sale and rental of violent video games to anyone under the age of 18. The act defines a “violent video game” as, among other things, making available the option of “killing, maiming dismembering or sexually assaulting” a human or substantially human game character if doing so appeals to a “deviant or morbid interest of minors” or is done in an “especially heinous, cruel, or depraved” manner. Such games must also be labeled with two-inch by two-inch… Continue Reading